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Inflation steady in January

Feb. 21, 2013 at 9:14 AM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Consumer price inflation held steady in January, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said Thursday.

Prices rose 1.6 percent on an annual basis, a slight drop from December, when the 12-month rate was 1.7 percent. On a month-to-month basis, however, prices were listed as unchanged for the second consecutive month. In the previous month, November, the month-to-month change was minus 0.2 percent.

Core prices, the category that excludes food and energy items, rose 0.3 percent in January from the previous month after gaining 0.1 percent in December.

The energy index fell 1.7 percent in January, the bureau said, with declines in gasoline, fuel oil and natural gas partly offset by an increase in the index for electricity.

After 10 months of increases, prices for food were unchanged in January, the bureau said.

On a 12-month basis, core prices are up 1.9 percent, close to the Federal Reserve's target of keeping annual inflation at 2 percent or below.

The core price category is closely watched as it illustrates how much energy price changes have affected prices overall.

On an unadjusted annual basis, the price index for medical care services rose 3.6 percent in January, prices for transportation services rose 3 percent and shelter costs rose 2.2 percent.

The price of new vehicles rose 1.7 percent, but the price of a used vehicle dropped 1.3 percent, the report said.

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